Friday, June 14, 2019

Iran Didn't Attack Those Oil Tankers

The assertion, in the absence of evidence, that Iran is responsible for yesterday’s attacks, should not be believed. Iran has no motive to attack oil tankers, but the Trump Administration has plenty of motives to blame Iran.
Yesterday morning, two oil tankers were attacked with explosives in the Gulf of Oman. One was the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous; the other was Norway’s Front Altair. Not a lot of reliable information is out yet – sources disagree as to whether the weapons were torpedoes or limpet mines, and whether the ships sank, or were merely abandoned after catching fire.

There also isn’t any agreement as to who did it. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, immediately blamed Iran, saying that no one else in the region has the ability to carry out such a sophisticated attack. Iran vociferously denied it.

All of this raises an important question: why would Iran do such a thing? The State Department’s assertion that Iran was responsible provides no evidence and no motive, only repeating old accusations of “forty years of aggression against freedom-loving nations.”

But since I believe that evidence and motive are important in solving mysteries like this one, I will write a little about why I believe that Iran isn’t responsible, describe three other possible perpetrators that did have a motive to commit the attacks, and, finally, discuss the Trump Administration’s motive for blaming Iran.

Iran’s main foreign policy goal is to be left alone by the United States – something that is easier said than done. For instance, it took years of negotiating with the Obama Administrating to get JCPOA, a promise of sanctions relief in exchange for an end to Iran’s uranium enrichment. But since the deal was never ratified in the US Senate, President Trump was able to rescind it shortly after taking office. This prompted outbursts of anti-American anger in Iran, and the centrifuges were turned back on. Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration is acting as if Iran is the aggressor.

If it still seems like Iran is overreacting, just remember that when the US government imposes sanctions on a foreign country, it doesn’t just ban Americans from trading with that country, it bans everybody from trading with that country. You may remember how Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese corporate executive, was arrested in Canada last December, at the United States’ request, for the crime of trading with Iran.

The originalists in my audience may recall that the constitution does not give Congress power to regulate commerce between foreign nations, but that was back in 1787. Nowadays, America is Emperor of the World, constitution be damned.

And blaming the oil tanker attacks on Iran makes no sense when one considers that one of the tankers, Kokuka Courageous, was owned by Japan, a country whose prime minister was in Tehran at the time, discussing ways to circumvent the American sanctions. Why would Iran attack one of the few countries that is willing to stand up for its rights?

And in case any of my readers have misconstrued my previous post about how the United States would lose a war with Iran, I will repeat that I meant “lose” in the sense that, if war broke out, the Iranians would keep their independence and inflict more damage on America than the Americans are willing to bear. But the majority of casualties, especially civilians, will still be Iranians. Iran has no incentive to make itself the aggressor in a war that would get millions of its people killed.

Having explained why I believe that Iran is not to blame, the question becomes one of who actually has a motive to attack those tankers? In other words, cui bono?

It could simply be ordinary middle eastern terrorists. Perhaps they were funded by Iran, though they certainly weren’t taking orders from the Iranian government. Perhaps they were funded by Saudi Arabia. They would have been acting out of general anti-western sentiment, driven by anger over foreign involvement in the middle east, rather than any sort of coherent grand strategy.

On the other hand, it could have been a conspiracy on the part of oil speculators to drive up the price of crude. Oil futures surged 4 percent on the day of the attacks, and investors with their money leveraged properly would stand to make a huge profit.

Or it could have been a false-flag attack by the US to gain a pretext for war with Iran. While I am listing this as a possibility, I don’t believe that it is more likely than the other two.

What, then, is the State Department’s motive for blaming Iran? Inertia is part of it: enmity with Iran has been a staple of US foreign policy for decades, and old habits die hard. Also, it gives Donald Trump an opportunity to look tough, by breathing out threats against Iran should the aggression continue.

Mike Pompeo and John Bolton are war hawks who want an increased American presence in the middle east. Even if they can’t convince Trump to invade Iran – and at this point I think that they can’t, because Trump knows better than to start the next Vietnam War – they’re still on the lookout for reasons to escalate things and deploy more American forces near the Iranian border.

Finally, the media coverage of these events – in which President Trump gets to be the good guy for a change – is a welcome relief from the constant focus on his administration’s domestic scandals and failure to secure the border.

In conclusion: Iran had no motive to attack the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Other people did have motives to do so. And the Trump administration definitely has motives for blaming Iran – but don’t bet on Mr. Trump moving on to open hostilities, because if it came to war, America stands to lose.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Escaping the Left-Right Axis

America’s current political spectrum, and the mainstream conservative and liberal camps, cover a very small portion of all possible ideologies. To truly understand out times, it is necessary to escape the left-right axis, dump traditional media, and instead follow an array of eclectic blogs.
If you have been reading Twilight Patriot for a while, you will probably have noticed that I don’t fit neatly into the conservative camp of American politics. I voted for Donald Trump and will do so again, but I also think he’s a windbag. I disagree with the Republican Party’s denial of climate change, but I also think that anyone who votes Democrat because of that issue is being played for a fool.

I have criticized the British people for not rioting on account of the delays in implementing Brexit, and I have criticized right-wing Americans for not having a revolution – violent or otherwise – over the abortion issue. I admire George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Ron Paul, and Vladimir Putin.

I think that conservatives ought to dump their islamophobia. I despise the House of Saud, but have a favourable opinion of Iran. I look forward to the collapse of the US dollar. And I believe that the three biggest moral abominations of modern America are abortion, medicating children for ADHD, and what the Federal Reserve does – in that order.

If you tried to place my ideology on the traditional political spectrum, you would probably conclude that I’m somewhere on the extreme right wing. The trouble is that, on the left-right axis, the “far right” includes both libertarians and fascists. And the statement: “he’s somewhere between a libertarian and a fascist” has very little meaning.

The truth is that I escaped the left-right axis a while ago. And the fact that my beliefs are uncategorizable is a good thing.

The opinions of the modern left, right, and center – in other words, what you’ll find on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox – are a tiny subset of all the political opinions that have ever been held throughout human history. And anyone who calls people like me extremists – that is, anyone who thinks that the only legitimate opinion is some sort of mixing together of the opinions that are commonly held in his own small piece of spacetime – is an idiot.

One reason I think this way is that I was raised to study the classics, and to be part of an intellectual tradition that bestrides millenia of history, next to which the combined viewpoints of Fox, CNN, and MSNBC look rather puny. But another reason is that, as I grew up, I learned to ignore mainstream news sites and instead follow an array of eclectic blogs.

When I was younger, I got my news from websites with fairly standard conservative viewpoints – the Drudge Report, Fox News, and the Federalist. Soon afterward, I started reading liberal sites too – Slate and the Huffington Post. But my opinions were, for the most part, aligned with the Federalist – a fairly standard set of doctrinaire conservative views.

Then I found Matt Walsh. Walsh writes for The Matt Walsh Blog – an aptly-named site if there ever was one – and he’s a right-winger who tells it like it is. Unlike some of the writers at the Federalist, Walsh is willing to say, over and over again, and quite bluntly, exactly why it is that conservatives should seek no middle ground on the abortion issue. Or on sexual liberation, or the welfare state, and so forth.

Rather than reviewing the latest Game of Thrones episode, Walsh just makes a straightforward case that Christians shouldn’t watch Game of Thones – and they also shouldn’t send their children to the public schools – and that they should go to a traditionalist church whose pastor makes them feel guilty about their sins, because modern Christianity isn’t judgmental enough.

According to Walsh, America is not, currently, a great nation – and it isn’t going to have its decline reversed – and it won’t split into multiple countries, because people these days are far too lazy to fight another civil war. Most conservatives are, on account of their apathy, just as guilty for their country’s situation as liberals are. And indifference, not hatred, is the vice that has done our civilization in.

You don’t get that perspective from Fox News, or Breitbart, or the Federalist.

Also, Mr. Walsh is the only right-wing personality I follow who talks about the damage being done to American children by ADHD medication – how child-drugging causes reduced growth, personality changes, psychosis, and permanent deficits in the same neurotransmitters whose concentration the drug is boosting in the short term.

The upshot is that a little over ten percent of America’s young men (and 3 to 5 percent of young women) are going through life with neurotransmitter deficits whose effects are basically unknown, and most news outlets, including the Federalist (which has published about a dozen stories each day since 2013 without mentioning the issue) have nothing to say.

Screw the Federalist.

Matt Walsh has done a lot to help people wake up to the fact that the realities of modern America are much darker than mainstream conservatives want to admit. Even so, his effects on my own intellectual development were limited by the fact that I immediately agreed with almost everything he said – to the point that the biggest issue we don’t agree on is that of emotional support animals (I am in favour; Walsh is generally opposed).

There is only so much you can do with a blog where you agree with nearly everything the proprietor has to say. That’s why the truly fun blogs are a mixture of the self-evidently true and the off-the-wall crazy – ideas which I will almost never share but which, on further thought, I very occasionally end up agreeing with.

A good example of a “fun blog” is Ecosophia – the website of the Archdruid John Michael Greer. Greer is an environmentalist, but he’s far too wise to support the Democrats on that account, and he realizes that both parties are fully committed to the same unsustainable industrial lifestyle. He criticizes all segments of modern society, but especially the Left, for their misplaced faith in abstract thinking, their insistence that the world must conform to their desires, and their dismissal of the experiences of people whom they consider to be beneath them. He takes a moderate view on the things usually called “social issues,” is against globalization, and is a mild supporter of Donald Trump.

An Ecosophia post on the ongoing rise of a unique, non-Western civilization in Russia led me to discover the websites of Dmitri Orlov and the Saker. Orlov and the Saker are both Russians whose families fled their homeland during the Communist years, so that the two men ended up watching the recent transformations of the motherland from the outside. Both are patriots with favourable opinions of Vladimir Putin, whom they see as one of the few national leaders willing to keep his country independent of the American empire – which they see as a militaristic pirate state which is desperately trying to stave off its impending collapse by forcing other countries to accept its increasingly worthless currency.

I do not agree with everything that Orlov and the Saker have to say – I dislike their whitewashing of Russia’s treatment of the Poles, I don’t share their belief that America was founded on unbridled individualism, and I reject the assertion that American foreign policy is controlled by Zionists in Tel Aviv. Nor, for that matter, do Orlov and the Saker always agree with each other: for instance, Orlov is irreligious, while for the Saker, defending the true Orthodox faith against the claims of the heretical Papists and Protestants is more important than any of the mere political controversies that grace his blog.

Nevertheless, reading these authors and internalizing their ideas – whether I end up agreeing with them or not – has brought me a much greater awareness of the alternatives to Western Europe’s (collapsing) civilizational model, the magnitude of the national turnaround that President Putin has achieved since he took power, and the role of American militarism in propping up a doomed financial system amid the ongoing struggle for dedollarization.

If you want to escape the left-right axis like I did, then I recommend reading all of these blogs, and more. Seek out people like Matt Walsh, John Michael Greer, Dmitri Orlov, and the Saker. Be eclectic. Find websites that make you think, that don’t fit into doctrinaire conservatism (or doctrinaire anything), and that don’t flatter their audience into feeling good about their unsustainable lifestyle.

In conclusion: A man who holds who holds only mainstream opinions is a man who never thinks.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Letter of May 2019

EDITOR:

A new word has appeared in international news lately – dedollarization. It refers to the process whereby foreign countries, especially Russia and China, stop using US dollars in their trade. Dedollarization may seem like a bad thing to those in the ‘Make America Great Again’ crowd, but I will argue that it isn’t. Rather, I see dedollarization – not tariffs or a trade war – as the only way to get rid of the trade deficit and bring more jobs back to America.

America has the world’s largest trade deficit because it consumes more than it produces. Under the old system of the gold standard, trade deficits were impossible – exports had to balance imports, or else a country would run out of gold. But then, the Federal Reserve gained the ability to print an unlimited amount of dollars and export its paper currency in lieu of actual goods. Thus, exports no longer had to balance imports, and there could be a net loss of jobs overseas.

In effect, what happened was that the Federal Reserve replaced the American worker. Foreign laborers now do America’s work, in exchange for dollars that the Fed has created out of thin air and lent to the government or to monied elites. Ordinary Americans are left out in the cold.

But America will lose its ability to consume more than it produces when other countries dedollarize. And I will not be lamenting the end of American hegemony. If being an ordinary country means that America must rely on its own workers to make its own goods again, I see that as a good thing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

America Would Lose A War With Iran

The recent wars of the United States have all been fought against weak countries, and even so, results have been mixed. If the Americans lose their calm and take on a tougher foe like Iran, the results would be catastrophic.
The US government has recently started another round of its usual sabre-rattling towards Iran, this time going so far as to announce a troop buildup in the Middle East. The war hawks in the administration haven’t gotten their way yet, but that won’t stop the President from bragging about how he could win a war, if he needed to; see, for instance, his recent tweet:

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

All of this raises the question: is this just bluster, or does Mr. Trump think he could actually put an end to Iran?

My own belief is that America would lose a war with Iran.

Just to be clear, I am not talking about a nuclear war, in which the United States could turn any country, Iran included, into glass – the only trouble is that, while Iran itself may or may not have a nuclear deterrent, Russia and China certainly do, and they would not tolerate an American first strike against their neighbor.

So that leaves two options for what America could do to Iran: Either bomb Iran with conventional weapons from a safe distance, or else invade on the ground.

The trouble with bombing is that, unlike the Taliban or ISIS, Iran has effective anti-aircraft weapons, especially the Russian S300 surface-to-air missile system. Missile for missile, it is not as good as America’s Patriot SAMs, but the Russian missiles are cheaper (hence more abundant) and fully up to the job of area denial.

The United States is no longer capable of the sort of logistics seen in World War II, where tens of thousands of combat aircraft were produced and shot down every year. Instead, the current arsenal, which is the result of decades of production and no significant combat losses, consists of about 900 F-16s, 300 A-10s, 200 each of F-15s and F-22s, 100 F-35s, and smaller numbers of other planes.

When fighting the Taliban and ISIS, more aircraft were lost to mechanical failure than to enemy action. That won’t be the case with Iran. America is no longer capable, either psychologically or economically, of losing aircraft every day.

And any plan to invade Iran with ground troops would be dead in the water. Ever since the German offensive was turned back at the Ardennes, the US military has been operating under the Jupiter Complex – every operation involves raining fire on the enemy out of the sky. Without air superiority, US ground forces can do nothing.

Add to that the fact that Iran has twice the population of Afghanistan or Iraq, a large and mountainous country to defend, and better equipment and training than the weak enemies which America is accustomed to fighting, and you can see how much worse this would turn out than any of the previous middle eastern wars.

Granted, American technological superiority is still great enough that Iran would lose more men in every battle. But the Iranians can afford this – they would, after all, be defending their families, homeland, and religion, while for America, Iran would be just one of the many far-away places which the average citizen can’t find on a map, but in which the military must spread itself in order to defend America’s global hegemony.

And then we need to look at Iran’s offensive capabilities. The Iranian navy has purchased Klub missiles from Russia; these high-tech cruise missiles can evade radar and most other defenses by flying just 20 meters above the water. They can strike both land and sea targets, and can be launched from any military vessel – or out of a shipping container on a civilian ship – or from a truck, or a warehouse, or a hole in the ground – you get the idea.

One hit from a Klub missile would be enough to sink an American carrier, which is how you can know that tensions are hottest when America’s aircraft carriers sail out of a 500 km range from Iran.

But even if the Americans manage to keep their carriers afloat (at the cost of keeping them too far from the land battles to offer much support) the entire gulf coast of Saudi Arabia would be open to attack. The infrastructure necessary for shipping oil to the US would be demolished, and the bottom would fall out of the American economy.

And even though the Iranians wouldn’t be able to get their own vessels anywhere near American shores, there is no way to know that they don’t already have a few klub missiles sitting in automated containers at the bottom of the Potomac estuary, waiting for the command to empty the ballast tanks, pop up to the surface like corks, and pull off a quick decapitation strike against Washington DC, just as the politicians are settling in for another day of business-as-usual.

In conclusion, going to war with Iran is a very bad idea. And it’s also completely unnecessary. The Iranians do not want a war – they aren’t suicidal, and as I said before, they stand to take a lot more casualties than we would.

And while they hate us, it isn’t like we haven’t given them reasons to. The CIA meddled in Iranian politics for decades before the Revolution of 1979. And while Americans frequently talk about the time when the Soviet Union downed KAL-007 with the loss of all passengers and crew, they rarely hear that in 1988, the Americans did the same thing to Iran Air flight 655 in 1988, when a missile cruiser shot down an Airbus A300 that had ignored orders to identify itself, even though it was in Iranian territory at the time.

Americans will almost never hear about this, but every Iranian schoolchild knows the story – and the anniversary of the event, July 3, is a traditional day for chanting “Death To America!”

So America isn’t that innocent. And Iran isn’t that guilty. Their human rights record looks poor by European standards, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what Saudi Arabia, America’s favourite middle eastern country, manages to get away with. The Iranians will execute people for drug trafficking and various sex crimes, but they don’t behead teenagers for showing up to protests. And they don’t hide bodies in their embassies. And they didn’t wait until 2017 to let women drive.

My conclusion? America should stop demonizing Iran. And stop showing favouritism to Saudi Arabia. And stop rattling sabres at Iran – because if that particular rivalry escalates into a shooting war, the Americans will lose..

Friday, May 10, 2019

Betting on the Election - Part II

The real differences between the two dozen or so Democrats seeking the presidential nomination in 2020 are trivial. But it’s still a lot of fun to speculate on the outcome. For the benefit of anyone betting on the election, I’ll share my odds.
So far, 22 Democrats have announced their bids for the Presidency. In my last post, I described the probabilities I had assigned to the Democratic long-shots. This time, I’ll talk about the heavyweights, starting with the Senator Kamela Harris.

Kamala Harris – 1 in 12

Harris has a strong fundraising operation and is doing well in the polls – as of my writing this post, she stands at fourth place in the RealClearPolitics national average, and I’m giving her the fourth spot among potential nominees.

Harris’ advantages are fairly straightforward: She already holds an important office – Senator from California – with more constituents than anyone else except the President and Vice President. She is also young, energetic, and female, which is exactly what a big fraction of the Democratic base wants in a champion to take on President Trump.

One of the few criticisms against Harris to come from the Left is that, in her earlier career as an attorney general, she has done things some things that anger the criminal justice reform movement. I do not think this will be a big deal; for instance, it was Hillary Clinton who came up with the concept of a ‘super-predator’ back in the ‘90s, and she still got the nomination last time around.

But even though Harris looks strong and popular at present, it’s still too far out to say whether her day in the sun will last. Overall, I rate her chances at one in twelve.

Elizabeth Warren – 1 in 10

Warren, like Harris, is a female senator from a liberal state with solid Democratic credentials and a burning desire to take on the Donald. She offers a somewhat different flavour of leftism than Harris does, as Warren is older older and more willing to promise economic upheaval, but for the most part, her advantage lies in her better name recognition.

RealClearPolitics puts Warren at third place in their polling average, and I put her at third place in my odds chart, with one chance in ten of getting the nomination.

(And just in case you’re wondering, actual Democrats don’t care about the Pocahantas fiasco, just like actual Republicans don’t care how many times Trump puts his foot in his mouth.)

Bernie Sanders – 1 in 5

Bernie Sanders is in a strong position going into this primary. People know who he is and what he stands for. There is a strong suspicion among the Democratic base that if Sanders had been nominated last time, Donald Trump would never have become president. Most of the voters want a firebrand this time around, and Bernie Sanders is willing to be their man.

But Sanders also has some liabilities. Although he got a big head start with his 2016 popularity, there is also a huge number of rivals competing for the role of firebrand. Sanders doesn’t appeal to the intersectionality-mongers – apparently, ‘Jew’ doesn’t qualify as an underprivileged minority anymore – and the ‘Socialist’ label also scares some people away. It shouldn’t – it’s a meaningless label, since all Democrats want to expand the government – but it still does. With all that in mind, I estimate Sanders’ chances at one in five.

Joe Biden – 1 in 4

Imagine the following scenario: A man from one party wins the presidency, and he is hated by the other party’s base. The new president is accused of running the country dictatorially and wrecking American democracy at every turn. His unpopularity drives a surge in political participation by his enemies, huge rallies and protests, and record voter turnout in the midterms. All sorts of interesting characters cycle through the national stage as the opposition party’s reenergized base seeks leaders who can channel its outrage.

Then, the party nominates the most boring and conventional of the candidates on offer.

It doesn’t seem likely, from an intuitive standpoint, but it’s what happened with the Republicans in 2012, when they nominated Romney, and it’s what Biden is hoping will happen with the Democrats in 2020.

Despite all his baggage and his inability to elicit enthusiasm from his base, Biden is still leading in the polls. He has plenty of support from the monied interests and business-as-usual Democrats who just want the country to continue its march to the left with a minimum of drama.

If the Democratic voters who want someone younger and more energetic can coalesce around another candidate, then Biden will be easily beatable; if they can’t, he will likely be the nominee. With this in mind, I’m saying that Biden’s chances are one in four.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Betting on the Election - Part I

The real differences between the two dozen or so Democrats seeking the presidential nomination in 2020 are trivial. But it’s still a lot of fun to speculate on the outcome. For the benefit of anyone betting on the election, I’ll share my odds.
So far, 22 Democrats have announced their bids for the Presidency. Back in 2016, the Republicans ran 17 people and got what seemed like the wildest ride ever – but now, the Democrats have one-upped them with their own Hunger Games Primary. This shouldn’t really surprise anybody; the Democrats have been in a state of hysterical overdrive since 9 Nov. 2016, and the change to take on President Trump is the most coveted thing in the world for a Democrat.

Without further ado, here are my odds for eleven of the more serious Democratic contenders. I’ll handicap the smaller contenders in this post, and the larger ones in Part II.

Andrew Yang – Zero

Andrew Yang is a businessman who has never before held public office, but who has lapped up some media attention with his promise of a ‘Freedom Dividend’ - $12,000 per year of guaranteed income to every American over the age of 18. Despite his success as an internet meme, Yang is only polling at 1% - it seems that even most Democrats shy away from the Freedom Dividend once they realize that Yang has also called for a $2½ billion/year VAT tax to fund it. And then there is the fact that Yang never says you have to live in America to claim the money, which raises the question of whether an 18-year-old could simply move to some tropical country where the cost of living is half what it is in America and spend the rest of his life doing nothing but surf.

Also, keep in mind that when Yang first announced his candidacy, one of the issues he decided to take a stand on was… circumcision. People with a carefully reasoned policy on circumcision do not become president – they never have and never will.

My conclusion? ‘No on Andrew Yang’ is the surest bet in the history of betting.

Pete Buttigieg – 1 in 20

Peter Buttigieg, the popular young mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has had a bit of a media bubble over the past few months. Some people think that his charisma and résume (he is a Rhodes Scholar and took a leave from his mayorship to fight in Afghanistan) will give him the edge, but I doubt it. Mayor of South Bend is too small of a post from which to make the jump into the presidency.

Also, Buttigieg’s homosexuality may not go over as well as most pundits are inclined to think. Acceptance of LGBT rights seems to me to be more a matter of age than of party. Obviously, the vast majority of Democrats are supportive, as are most young Republicans. But I think that there are still enough old Democrats who dislike homosexuals to scupper Buttigieg’s chances at becoming the nominee. But he isn’t a complete nonfactor like Yang, so I’ll say his chances are one in 20.

Beto O’Rourke – 1 in 20

I have also placed Beto O’Rourke at one in 20. Like Buttigieg, Beto is charismatic, but his current position is too minor to propel him to the presidency under normal circumstances. He was a congressman from Texas until he ran for Senate against Ted Cruz and lost. Running in such a big state, against such and unpopular Republican, and coming so close got him a lot of attention, but to most people, he’s still just a media sensation. Nevertheless, it left him without enough money and name recognition to help in a presidential campaign, which is why I rate him at a one in 20 chance of becoming the nominee.

Booker, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, and Gabbard – 1 in 15 each

Senators Corey Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand, and representative Tulsi Gabbard all have a better foothold in high office than any of the candidates I mentioned before. They also appeal to the intersectionality crowd and have solidly liberal politics. Although none has yet stood out as an individual, I think it highly likely that at least one of these four will make it into the primary’s final denouement next spring, appealing to the faction of the party that wants neither an old, white man nor inexperienced oddball. Hence, I’m giving each one a one in 15 chance in the primary.

And that will be all for Part I. Next time, I’ll discuss what I think are the major players: Harris, Warren, Sanders, and Biden.

Monday, April 29, 2019

We Should Support Muslims Who Defend Their Families

A man who worships at a mosque, and also refuses to allow his children to be taught that abortion is sometimes necessary and that six-year-olds can choose their own genders, is a friend, not an enemy.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 29 April 2019

Libby Emmons of The Federalist recently published a story entitled: “Feminists Couldn’t Get Trans Ideology Out Of UK Public Schools, But Muslims Did.” She briefly described the tepid opposition which a new program to teach leftist gender theory to five and six-year-olds received from British conservatives and old-fashioned feminists – that is to say, feminists who reject the idea that anyone can be a woman. But these people didn’t make any headway, and they just ended up being labelled as bigots and ridiculed by the ruling class.

“Then,” Emmons says, “religious Muslims got wind of the LGBT+ indoctrination of their primary school students, and freaked out. According to these parents, who staged protests outside of the schools in their districts… homosexuality is not sanctioned by their religion, and they don’t want their children taught that it’s acceptable. The parents’ protests included pulling more than 600 Muslim children from school, and were incredibly effective. The lessons have stopped.”

At this point, a decently written story would have commended these Muslim parents for their forcible, and ultimately successful, resistance. Any true lover of liberty will make common cause with anyone, of whatever race or religion, who defends his or her children from indoctrination into such an ideology.

But Emmons seems to draw all the wrong lessons from these events. The next section of her story is subtitled “Moral Relativism Meets Privilege Theory,” and from there it all devolves into a lamentation of how the nonsensical ideology of the Left requires that the views of certain repressed groups – Muslims included – be given privileged status.

After spending quite a while critiquing the Left’s way of thinking, Emmons concludes by stating that “to hold the dominant Western culture to one set of standards, but to hold a culture that opposes the grounding views of Western culture to a different set of standards is to have no basis upon which to hold fast the standards that are essential for free life in a democracy. The West must hold fast to the standards of individual freedom, not group identity, as a driving factor for law making and social interaction.”

All of this leaves me with the odd impression that Emmons wishes that, for the sake of equality, the Muslim’s efforts to keep their children free of LGBT indoctrination had failed. What began as a story of people who successfully fought back against what ought to be every conservative parent’s nightmare has now wandered off into the weeds of criticizing Muslims for opposing Western culture. In other words, Emmons has let her ill feelings toward Islam eclipse her desire to protect the innocence of children.

And it is very strange for anyone to describe the Muslims in this situation as “a culture that opposes the grounding views of Western culture.” For nearly the entire existence of Western civilization, it has gone without question that children cannot choose their own gender. But nowadays, the people who most vehemently defend that principle are shunned by many conservatives because they follow an unpopular religion.

This is the sort of infighting among the opponents of tyranny that will guarantee the triumph of the Left. If you cannot see that the real enemy, in this situation, is the person who will talk a child into getting himself castrated if he feels like he was born as the wrong sex, then you are – in the British parlance – a bloody idiot.

When conservative white people read a story like this, the correct emotional response is not envy for Muslims’ place in the victim hierarchy, but shame that so few members of their own race are willing to fight just as hard to protect their own children. If white Tories, who make up about half the British population, had pulled their children from the schools en masse, they would have had an even easier time getting their way than the Muslims did.

And as for us Americans, we ought to always remember that the Founders shared a strong belief in religious pluralism among the defenders of liberty. And they left no doubt that Muslims are included in that pluralism. Consider, for instance, the passage in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography where he describes a time when several eminent men contributed money to finance the construction of an edifice “expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something to the people at Philadelphia; the design in building not being to accommodate any particular sect, but the inhabitants in general; so that even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

Religious conservatives in modern America are fighting a mostly losing battle, not against Islam, but against secular hedonism, an ideology which, while inimical to the ancient principles of Western civilization, has for many generations found majority acceptance in the United States. Secular hedonism has, through legalized abortion, cost some sixty million Americans their lives. Meanwhile, its other detestable practices are guaranteed to bring nothing but misery to the millions of brainwashed youths who emerge from the public school system each passing year.

And yet, when confronted with schools where the curriculum includes Planned Parenthood pep talks, white privilege bracelets, and Genderbread Man, most so-called conservatives will shrug their shoulders and send their children anyway.

When a Muslim refuses to do so, we are wrong to regard him as an enemy because he is a Muslim. We ought to see him simply as a man who is willing to defend his family.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Second Letter of April 2019

EDITOR:

I recently encountered a news story whose most notable feature may be its strange lack of coverage in the mainstream press. Even though it’s nearly two years old, it still seems serious enough to be worth writing about.

In 2017, researchers at the University of Amsterdam published a study in which they measured levels of the neurotransmitter GABA+ in the brains of adults who, as children, had been diagnosed with ADHD and medicated with methylphenidate (aka Ritalin aka Concerta). They found that these adults suffered a permanent deficit of the neurotransmitter. The consequences are unknown, though this is almost certainly a bad thing, because:

1) The human brain is extremely complex, and nobody fully understands the delicate balance of thousands of chemicals needed for it to function properly.

2) This is the same neurotransmitter which ADHD treatments are trying to increase in the short term.

The scientists described what they had discovered as “an aberration from the normal development of the GABAergic system,” saying that “Future studies are therefore warranted to assess the underlying mechanisms, as well as the consequences of these lower GABA+ levels.”

The pharmaceutical industry’s attitude toward the controversy is best summed up as: ‘We don’t know the ramifications of these missing neurotransmitters, but whatever sort of damage the drugs may cause, it’s acceptable collateral damage in the struggle to get kids to behave better in grade school.’

Since ADHD medication is used mainly on boys, I sometimes wonder if all the statistics about women surpassing men in higher education might have anything to do with the fact that some 10 or 20% America’s young male population is going through life with neurotransmitter deficits whose effects are basically unknown.

Monday, April 15, 2019

How The Federal Reserve Keeps Everyone In Debt

In a debt-backed currency system, new money is created only when the central bank lends it out at interest. The amount of money owed to the Federal Reserve will always exceed the amount in circulation, so most debts will never be repaid.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 15 April 2019

People often speak of fiat money as if its worth were purely imaginary because, unlike the gold-backed currency of the past, its value is not based on any physical substance. But that is only partially true; fiat money isn’t backed by nothing, it’s backed by debt. Everyone is scrambling to get dollars because nearly everyone has debts that can only be paid in dollars – and the scramble will, for most people, lead only to frustration, because there aren’t enough dollars in circulation to pay off all the debt.

In a debt-backed currency system like America’s, new money can only be created by the central bank, and the central bank exchanges this money for only one thing – a promise to pay back yet more money in the future. Debt created in this manner will never, on the whole, be paid off. It is mathematically impossible for it do anything but steadily grow.

America’s current problem with debt – both personal and public – is generally blamed on a lack of frugality.  And that is indeed part of the problem, as most modern Americans live beyond their means. But even in the mid-twentieth century, when the old virtues of thrift and hard work were more widespread, the middle class was kept firmly under the heel of the banking industry and was being steadily drained of its wealth.

The problem is ultimately structural. The minority of Americans who manage to pay their way out of debt can only do so by selling their goods or labour in exchange for dollars. And those dollars were ultimately borrowed, at interest, from a bank. The debt can be shuffled around, and the most talented and hardworking individuals can claw their way to the top of the pile, but the pile itself will never be diminished.

And because the amount of money owed to the Federal Reserve is always increasing, the only way to prevent the economy from grinding to a halt entirely is to steadily increase the money supply via inflation. And that is what the Federal Reserve does, by lending out yet larger amounts of money in order to cover the original debts. But central bankers know better than to set the inflation rate so high as to lose the ability to profit off the debt already owed to them. With the right balance, economic collapse can be staved off without the finance industry losing its ability to enrich itself at the expense of everybody else.

All this is not to say that individuals cannot pay out of debt if they make it a priority to do so. They need only outperform the average American – and that’s a pretty low bar. Nevertheless, America as a whole will keep sliding further into bondage, as it has been doing ever since the free coinage of silver and gold were abolished in 1873 and 1933, respectively, making bankers into the creators of money rather than mere merchants of it.

No amount of moralizing about the need to live within our means can solve the debt problem in a country whose economy is structured so that an increasing debt load is a mathematical inevitability. Abolishing the Federal Reserve, and restoring commodity-backed money, is the only way to prevent the average American from continuing to toil away as a debt slave.

Friday, April 12, 2019

We Shouldn't Care Which Democrats Call Themselves Socialists

Republicans often express shock that so many Democrats are willing to vote for someone who embraces the label of ‘Socialist.’ But we shouldn’t let this distract us from the fact that most politicians, even in our own party, want bigger government.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 13 April 2019

When Bernie Sanders ran for President back in 2016 as a self-proclaimed socialist, he spurred a lot of discussion about just how accepting of socialism Americans are these days. Then Alexandra Ocaisio-Cortez used that same label to hog more media attention than every other freshman in Congress combined. Do her ideas, whether good or bad, actually merit such attention? Hardly, but we still give it to her.

News sites are constantly running articles about what percentage of millennials support socialism and what this says about their own outlook on life and about the future of American society. Republicans are lambasting the stupidity of anyone who wants to make the United States more like Venezuela. Sanders and Cortez are attacking the callousness of anyone who doesn’t want to make this country more like Denmark.

 Right-wingers say that socialism is communism-lite. Left-wingers say that democratic socialism is the complete opposite. But there can be no definitive answer as to what, exactly, socialism means, because far too many political entities over the years have described themselves as socialist. These range from Eugene Debs’ Socialist Party of America to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the National Socialist German Workers Party, and the British Labour Party under Clement Atlee.

These ideologies had very little in common, except that they all wanted a bigger role for government in their countries. And when you realize that, you’ll see the silliness of focusing our attention on the few Democrats who embrace the label of socialist. All democrats want bigger government, as do many Republicans. But when a select minority get labelled as socialists, either by themselves or by their enemies, we tend to let that distract us from the broader situation.

In 1946, George Orwell wrote an essay lamenting the unintelligent state of British political discourse. One of his complaints was that “the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’”

The word Socialism, for many years, had occupied a similar place in America, until a faction of the Democratic Party decided that, to them, it now signifies ‘something desirable.’

And so the hype over the fact that a few Democrats are now embracing this meaningless label has distracted us from the fact that all Democrats, and most Republicans, support the same long list of big-government programs. And it has also allowed an intellectually empty young woman from New York to garner more media attention than the entire class of incoming congressmen did last time around.

The hype has allowed many right-wing patriots to delude themselves into thinking that America dodged a bullet by not electing Bernie Sanders to the White House when he ran as a socialist. But in truth, America has been taking bullet after bullet as every president since Hoover has expanded the size and scope of the federal government.

The decline of American civilization is like the Blind Men and the Elephant. It is too large and multifaceted for any one observer to fully understand. Founding principle after founding principle has been undermined throughout the last century. The defenders of liberty are few and far between. And worrying about which label is or is not socially acceptable for leftists to wear will do nothing but distract us from the real issues.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Time To Be Brave

The father of a girl whose gender has been changed by court order could take his daughter and flee to Russia. Or he could remain in a country where speaking his child’s name is a thoughtcrime. It’s his choice.
Listen to this post: Twilight Patriot - 10 April 2019

A disturbing news story has been unfolding in Canada over the past few months. Here is how Jeremiah Keenan of the Federalist tells it:

“On 27 Feb, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada ordered that a 14-year-old girl receive testosterone injections without parental consent. The court also declared that if either of her parents referred to her using female pronouns or addressed her by her birth name, they would be considered guilty of family violence.

“As previously reported, the girl was encouraged by her school counselor in British Columbia’s Delta School District to identify as a boy while in seventh grade. When she was 13 years old, Dr. Brenden Hursh and his colleagues at British Columbia Children’s Hospital decided that she should begin taking testosterone injections in order to develop a more masculine appearance.”

Keenan spends most of his article giving more details on the story and repeating the usual conservative arguments as to why what is happening is a very bad thing. Near the end of the article, he quotes the girl’s father saying: “We’re gonna fight this right up to the Supreme Court of Canada. We’re not quitting.”

What seems to go over the heads of people like Keenan is that “fight this right up to the Supreme Court,” and “not quitting,” are not the same thing. The two are only equivalent in a worldview where ‘obeying a court order’ occupies a higher place in the chain of moral imperatives than ‘not allowing your daughter to be mutilated and sterilized.’ But such is the worldview held by most Americans and Canadians.

Hence the article’s doleful conclusion: “For now, the judge’s decision stands: the 14-year-old will begin taking testosterone against a parent’s wishes on the sole basis of her own consent.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. The man could take his daughter and flee to Russia, a country which has a taken a decidedly different stance than Canada on this matter, and a country where speaking the girl’s name isn’t a thoughtcrime.

Breaking the law in such a flagrant manner is a step too far for nearly all modern conservatives, but it wasn’t a step too far for the men and women of the past whom they look up to: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Corrie ten Boom, Claus von Stauffenberg, and so forth. On the opposite side – those who chose obedience under all circumstances – you’ll find Vidkun Quisling and Adolf Eichmann. Right now, this Canadian man must decide who his heroes are.

Should he choose to resist, his prospects are good. If the Russians welcomed Edward Snowden, they will probably be equally welcoming of this father and daughter. As President Putin said, “Russia does not extradite human rights activists.”

The United States and Canada may not consider it a human rights violation for a school counselor to talk a seventh-grader into getting herself sterilized, but Russia does. The plain fact of the matter is that anybody who identifies as the sex opposite his or her actual sex is insane, and no one else ought to validate such a delusion.

In the old days, everyone knew this. But then we allowed the Left to take over and begin preying upon mentally ill children, which the present regime of factory schools, endless screen time, and behaviour modifying drugs has produced in a superabundance never before seen. But in the end, a damaged boy is not a girl, or vice versa, and living in a society that tells such children otherwise will make their lives a lot more miserable than they need to be.

I have no idea what factors played into this particular girl’s mental crisis, but whatever they were, the rulers of Russia believe that she shouldn’t be encouraged to respond by mutilating herself. The rulers of Canada and the United States have no such scruples.

Getting to Russia is well within this man’s abilities. The distance from Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory, to Provideniya, the Russian town nearest the Bering Straits, is 1820 nautical miles. Most bushplanes can’t make that flight, but some can.

Acquiring the aircraft legally is probably beyond the man’s financial means, though this should not deter him, as planes can be stolen or hijacked. My first thoughts were that he might be able to find an Alaskan pilot willing to take him to Russia, but on further consideration I believe that to be too optimistic.

While there are no doubt thousands of bushpilots who, as gun-toting right-wingers, like to blather about resisting tyranny, such blather is usually quite empty. Just consider the fact that hundreds of children in the United States and Canada have already had their genders switched by court order over a parent’s objections, and I have yet to hear a single news story about anyone fleeing the country because of it. If fewer than one percent of Americans are willing to make such a sacrifice for their own child, then you can’t count on anyone making it for a stranger.

 I now believe that the best way to pull off the escape would be for the man to get himself and his daughter onto a chartered, single-pilot plane on the pretence of going to some far-away part of Canada, then draw a weapon and demand to be taken to Russia instead.

Would doing this be difficult and dangerous? Certainly. The man would have to deal with all the challenges of leaving his home country forever and settling in a foreign land, and he would also have to somehow get a very hostile daughter to see through the delusions which the Canadian psychologists have fostered in her.

There is a chance that the man could die, but like everyone, he’s going to do that someday no matter what. There is a chance that he could end up in prison, but being forbidden to speak his child’s name should be a serious enough form of bondage as it is.

If he doesn’t choose to be brave, if he chooses to do the Eichmann thing and obey orders not matter what, nobody will judge him for it. The conservative activists who are publicizing his case will continue to praise him for fighting the good fight. But he will have lost his daughter.

It is one thing to use eloquent arguments to ask the authorities not to mutilate one’s child. It is another thing to put one’s life on the line in order to protect that child after the authorities have turned down the request.

The vast majority of modern men and women will obey unconditionally. But no one is constrained to follow the majority. Sooner or later, we all must choose for ourselves. And for this man, the choice is one of whether to resist tyranny, as did Washington and Jefferson, or to remain in a country where speaking his child’s name is a thoughtcrime.